By Leya Musa
In order for shark-finners to continue to get as many fins on board their fishing boats and still remain within the law the finners have changed their tactics. Rather than just cut off the fins at sea they are stripping the shark body of the bulk of its flesh and returning the fins to shore barely just attached to a skeleton.
The new tactic is being used as more countries ban the practise of finning at sea and require fins to be landed that are still ‘naturally attached to the body’. By stripping the shark body of the bulk of its meat the finners are able to store many more shark fins on board their boats.
The new tactics have been highlighted by Costa Rica who have issued a Purple Notice through Interpol to warn other countries of the new modus operandi of the technique.
Details of the new technique used by fishermen to push the letter of the law to its limits, which were identified by the Costa Rican National Coast Guard, were presented by the head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in San José, during the second INTERPOL Fisheries Crime Working Group meeting which opened in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday, 4 November.
Head of NCB San José Gustavo Chinchilla said: “This is an opportunity to encourage other member countries to share types of modi operandi, in order to alert enforcement authorities to environmental crimes. I strongly believe that international cooperation and use of INTERPOL's tools, such as Purple Notices, allow us to provide a more coordinated and effective response to addressing fisheries issues.”
David Higgins, head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security unit explained that “Improved communications and increased sharing of information between countries provide law enforcement with an added advantage and facilitate the identification of criminals and new criminal techniques. Costa Rica’s use of INTERPOL’s system of notices is a perfect example of this,”
“This is now the second Purple Notice issued in relation to fisheries crime, and we hope that it will encourage other member countries to make increased use of INTERPOL notices to combat all types of environmental crime,” added Higgins.